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Does Sake Go Bad After Opening? Shelf Life Explained (2024)

does sake go bad

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Sake is still a mystery to many consumers. If you have been consuming and experimenting with sake for a while, you have surely asked yourself whether or not a bottle of sake has an expiration date.

But, really, does sake go bad? Let’s find out.

Does Sake Expire?

No, sake doesn’t have a best-by date or an expiration date on the bottle. Instead, you will find the manufacturing date on the sake labels.

In Japan, alcoholic drinks, including sake, and Japanese wine, are exempted from the Food Labeling Law.

However, a small sector does put a best-by date to tell how long it will keep its high-quality freshly-produced sake flavor. 

Its Shelf Life



An unopened sake in a cool and dark place can last up to two years. It is made from fermented rice and can claim a long shelf life.

Right storage can significantly increase sake’s shelf life and keep its enjoyable flavor longer than you might imagine.

Unpasteurized sake will last six months in an unopened bottle. It has a longer shelf life than an opened bottle because it’s kept sealed and intact.

To store sake, please keep it away from heat and light and make it intact with its box. Because once humid air enters the bottle, the drink could miss its potency.

After Opening

Sake oxidizes fast after opening. The taste may change in a few weeks or even a month. An opened pasteurized bottle of sake can be stored again for one to two years if tightly sealed.

On the contrary, unpasteurized sake will last 2-4 weeks after opening it.

Unlike wine, most kinds of sake aren’t good for aging. Consume it best within three days of opening to get the best quality taste and optimal flavor. The taste will alter because sake degrades with time.  


An opened bottle of sake should be kept refrigerated. Unrefrigerated sake might taste bad, spoil and ruin the brew. Any little taste or scent changes could tell you if sake has gone bad. 

However, freezing is not advised for fermented products like sake. Drink your sake as soon as possible. If not, it should be stored in the fridge immediately. 

Signs That It Has Gone Bad

Yellow tint. Sake is clear, and if there is a presence of a yellow hue, it shows that the oxidation process has quite ruined the alcohol.

Tiny particles are either floating or on the bottom of the bottle. Any particles inside the bottle of sake suggest it is likely to fall apart.

Off, rotten or undesirable smell. It can be spoiled if it smells off, so better throw it away.

Off and unusual taste. It is actually hard to tell if sake is spoiled. You can take a small sip to test it. However, you might also confuse yourself between ruined sake or sake you don’t like.

What Happens If You Drink Bad Sake?

Sake Once Cup Ozeki

It’s very unlikely that you become sick when you drink bad sake. Old unopened bottles of sake can still be consumed. It might not be the best version, but it will be safe to drink.

Even if discoloration occurs, no harmful bacteria should have entered the bottle when it’s sealed. But it will change in taste completely. However, if the cap is breached and something tastes horrible, trust your gut and do not consume it.  


What To Do With Old Sake

Old-aged sake can be used in cooking. Use it in your kitchen if it tastes too much off to drink. You don’t have to throw it unless it is spoiled. 

Sake usually lasts three to six months before it has to be discarded, so it is recommended to consume it closest to the date printed on the bottle. [1]

What Does Bad Sake Taste Like? 

Bad sake will have an off or a pungent smell, while good Japanese sake usually has a mildly sweet, clean-tasting drink. So, it can be spoiled if something tastes and smells bad. 

Listen to your taste buds, and don’t indulge yourself in consuming a bad drink. But how do you drink alcohol without tasting it?


Can you drink a 20-year-old sake?

Yes, you can drink a 20-year-old sake since it has components that can preserve it. Chances are high that it will not be very tasty, though.

Unlike wine, sake tastes worse during long-period storage. It is better to consume sake at the earliest age.

Can I use old sake for cooking?

Yes, you can use old sake for cooking. It is still possible to cook with sake even if it has lost its original flavor and taste due to oldness. 

You can substitute it for rice wine in Japanese dishes or any of your favorite meals. Sake is often used in marinades, soups, and sauces to add a gentle aroma and to tenderize meats. 

How Long Does Sake Go Bad After Opening?

Once opened, sake can start to lose its quality over time, but it typically remains drinkable for several weeks or even months if stored properly. To maintain the best flavor and quality, it’s recommended to consume sake within 1 to 2 weeks after opening. However, this timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the type of sake, storage conditions, and whether it’s pasteurized or unpasteurized. Properly sealing the sake bottle and storing it in the refrigerator can help prolong its freshness and prevent oxidation.

Does Sake Go Bad After Opening Reddit?

Sake can start to deteriorate in quality after opening, but it doesn’t necessarily go bad in the same way that perishable foods do. While sake may lose some of its flavor and aroma over time, it remains safe to consume even after it has been opened. However, to enjoy the best taste and quality, it’s recommended to consume sake within a few weeks of opening and to store it properly in the refrigerator.

Does Sake Go Bad Unrefrigerated?

Sake is a delicate beverage that can be affected by exposure to light, heat, and oxygen, which can cause it to deteriorate in quality more rapidly if left unrefrigerated. While unopened sake can typically be stored at room temperature, once opened, it’s best to refrigerate it to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage. Storing sake in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight can help extend its shelf life and preserve its flavor profile. However, if sake is left unrefrigerated for an extended period, it may lose its quality and develop off-flavors, so it’s recommended to refrigerate opened sake to ensure optimal taste and enjoyment.

How Long Can Sake Last After Opening?

After opening, sake can generally last for about 1 to 2 weeks if stored properly. However, this timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the type of sake, whether it’s pasteurized or unpasteurized, and how it’s stored. To extend the shelf life of opened sake, it’s essential to keep it refrigerated and tightly sealed to prevent oxidation and contamination. While sake may remain safe to drink beyond the recommended timeframe, its flavor and aroma may start to deteriorate over time.

How Do You Know if Sake is Spoiled?

Sake typically does not spoil in the same way that perishable foods do. However, it can lose its quality and develop off-flavors over time, especially if it’s been exposed to heat, light, or air. Signs that sake may have gone bad include a noticeable change in color, cloudiness, or a sharp, vinegar-like odor. Additionally, if the sake tastes sour or has an unpleasant, funky taste, it may have spoiled and should be discarded.

Is It OK to Drink Old Sake?

While it’s generally safe to drink old sake, its quality may have deteriorated, and it may not taste as good as when it was fresh. Drinking old sake that has developed off-flavors or has been improperly stored may not be enjoyable and could lead to a less-than-pleasant drinking experience. It’s best to consume sake within a reasonable timeframe after opening and to store it properly to maintain its freshness and flavor.

Does Sake Go Bad if Left Out?

Leaving sake out at room temperature for an extended period can accelerate its deterioration and cause it to go bad more quickly. Sake is a delicate beverage that can be affected by exposure to light, heat, and oxygen, which can lead to changes in flavor and aroma. To prolong the shelf life of sake and prevent it from going bad, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator after opening and tightly seal the bottle to minimize oxidation and contamination. If sake is left out for too long or exposed to unfavorable conditions, it may lose its quality and develop off-flavors, so it’s recommended to refrigerate sake to maintain its freshness and flavor.

Should I Keep Sake in the Fridge?

Yes, it’s generally recommended to store sake in the refrigerator, especially after opening. Keeping sake refrigerated helps maintain its freshness and preserves its delicate flavors. Sake can be sensitive to changes in temperature, light, and humidity, which can affect its quality over time. By storing sake in the fridge, you can slow down the oxidation process and prevent it from spoiling too quickly. However, unopened bottles of sake can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight until they’re ready to be enjoyed.

Should Sake Be Stored in a Wine Fridge?

Storing sake in a wine fridge is a good option if you have one available, especially if you’re a sake enthusiast with a collection of premium or delicate sakes. Wine fridges are designed to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level, which can help preserve the quality of sake over an extended period. However, if you don’t have a wine fridge, storing sake in a regular refrigerator works just fine as long as you keep it properly sealed and away from strong odors.

Why Does Sake Smell Bad?

When does Sake go bad? Sake can develop a bad smell if it has been improperly stored or if it has spoiled. Improper storage, such as exposure to heat, light, or air, can cause sake to oxidize and develop off-flavors. Additionally, if sake becomes contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms, it can produce unpleasant odors reminiscent of vinegar, mold, or fermentation. Using low-quality ingredients or fermenting the sake at the wrong temperature or for too long can also result in a subpar smell. To prevent sake from smelling bad, it’s essential to store it properly in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and tightly seal the bottle to minimize oxidation and contamination.

When does Sake go bad? 

Does sake go bad? Yes, it can go bad at some point. We recommend consuming it within 1 to 2 years from its production date. 

This traditional drink is made from fermented rice, so it doesn’t hold up to aging as much as other alcoholic beverages. 

Keep your sake fresh, ensure it’s stored properly, and you will still be able to enjoy it in the coming months. Happy drinking!


  1. What is a Digestif?
  2. Essential ingredients for Sake
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